A consumer-industry initiative to influence human behaviors and improve internal food safety culture

Introduction

The Alliance is an initiative of Stop Foodborne Illness (STOP), leading food companies and organizations committed to the goal of preventing foodborne illness by utilizing compelling personal stories of individuals and families who have been impacted by a severe foodborne illness.

The goal of communicating personal stories is to make clear why safety must be a central value of the food system.

In a data-driven world, giving a voice to those who have experienced the greatest impact of foodborne pathogens is a critical component to motivate people to reduce hazards and prevent illness.

The following members are committing time and resources to the development of the Alliance:

Mission

  • Forging partnerships between STOP and leading food companies to build and support strong food safety cultures.
  • Designing and implementing innovative, well-tailored training programs that make compelling personal stories an integral motivational element of food safety culture.
  • Expanding the reach and impact of personal stories through outreach to the small- and medium-sized companies who are key contributors to modern supply chains.

Vision

Conveying compelling personal stories illustrating the consequences of foodborne illness will motivate people at all levels of industry to follow their established science-based protocols every day to ensure the safety of our food supply.

Background

Stop Foodborne Illness is a national, non-profit public health organization dedicated to the prevention of illness and death from foodborne pathogens. Founded in 1993 by individuals and families who had directly experienced serious illnesses and deaths associated with E. coli O157:H7 and other deadly bacteria, the organization has supported and represented illness survivors, advanced public understanding of foodborne illness, and supported public policies and industry practices that strengthen prevention.      

The organization had a major impact on meat safety reforms in the 1990s.  STOP later worked with consumer groups and the food industry to achieve enactment of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 (FSMA), which codified the principle of regulatory accountability for prevention.

Over the years, engagement by STOP constituents with farmers, food companies, and industry associations on the human dimension of food safety have shown how the unique voice of those directly affected by foodborne illness can contribute to strengthening food safety culture and practices within food businesses, pushing companies to go beyond the minimum required by regulations.

Even with this progress, prevention of contamination every day at every level of our large, complex and diverse food system remains a major food safety obstacle. STOP believes the motivation provided by its compelling personal stories and the same kind of multi-sector dialogue and collaboration that led to enactment of FSMA can contribute to meeting today’s food safety challenges.

Through the Alliance, those directly affected by foodborne illness are provided the unique opportunity to work in innovative ways with the food industry to foster continued improvement in food safety. There is no other vehicle like it for enabling ongoing collaboration on food safety between food companies and consumers.

What makes the Alliance possible?

The Alliance is made possible by cooperative approaches to food safety, as reflected in the consumer-industry coalitions and STOP’s ongoing successful engagement with food companies, large and small.

The approach is grounded in strong alignment among many industry leaders and consumer and food safety advocates on the goal of preventing illness through best practices, continuous improvement, and strong food safety cultures.

This makes it possible to create a space in which consumer advocates, food companies, and scientists committed to the common goal of preventing foodborne illness can collaborate in new ways and, based on performance and consumer-industry dialogue, strengthen consumer confidence in how food safety is being managed.

Alliance Planning and Development

The STOP Board of Directors, in collaboration with member food companies, are coordinating Alliance planning and development through a committee that includes:

  • Michael Taylor, STOP board member and former FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine
  • Charlene Brown, STOP constituent, mother of foodborne illness survivor
  • Scott & Richelle Shields, STOP constituents, parents of foodborne illness survivor
  • Randy Huffman, Chief Food Safety and Sustainability Officer, Maple Leaf Foods
  • Gillian Kelleher, STOP board member and Vice President, Food Safety and Quality Assurance, Wegmans Food Markets
  • Craig Wilson, STOP board member and Vice President, QA and Food Safety, Costco Wholesale
  • Vanessa Coffman, PhD, Director of Alliance to Stop Foodborne Illness

Alliance Activities

The specific activities of the Alliance are determined collaboratively by the planning committee and Alliance participants and will evolve over time. We welcome your ideas and input!

Current activities include:

  • Working with member companies to identify speakers whose compelling stories and life experiences can be shared in ways that meet an individual company’s needs;
  • Accessing innovative ways to convey the power of stories and integrate them into a company’s ongoing employee motivation and training programs;
  • Furthering dialogue and deepening relationships between participating STOP constituents and member companies, building a foundation of trust and greater understanding for even stronger, more relevant collaboration;
  • Creating a contingent of Alliance members that collaborate on the development of unique opportunities to extend the reach of STOP’s personal stories to their individual supply chains and affiliates;
  • Leveraging the collaborative and collective power of member companies to achieve greater recall success;
  • Creating an improved food safety culture through idea sharing.

Principles Guiding Alliance Governance and Operating Practices

The Alliance is currently comprised of for-profit, and non-profit organizations, each with their own purposes and accountabilities operating independently in their own spheres. Each member employs their own unique methods to strengthen food safety culture while coming together and pooling their efforts to advance shared food safety goals.

To make the Alliance successful, some key governance and operating principles are observed, including: 

  • STOP’s identity, role, and autonomy as a consumer organization representing individuals and families directly impacted by foodborne illness is maintained, including the prerogative to take independent public positions on policy issues;
  • STOP and food industry partners share equal footing in shaping Alliance programs, with mechanisms to ensure that the Alliance does not conduct programs or take other actions to which either objects; and
  • Alliance-generated funding is used to strengthen STOP’s capacity to represent and support those directly affected by foodborne illness and play a substantive role in broader and more impactful delivery of their personal stories.

For more information contact Alliance Director, Vanessa Coffman:

Office Direct: 312-238-9038